Exercise for lungs: How to increase lung capacity with breathing exercises?

Dr. Vibha Choudhary

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vibha Choudhary


4 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Diaphragmatic breathing is an effective breathing exercise for lungs
  • Doing pranayama for COVID recovery helps in increasing lung strength
  • Improve your lung capacity with the help of a breathing exerciser

Lungs are an important organ of the respiratory system as they are responsible for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen essential for the body to function properly. How much air your lungs can hold determines the capacity of the lungs. As you age, lung capacity and functioning can decrease. Other factors like pollution, smoking, and respiratory disorders like COPD, asthma, and COVID-19 can also affect lung capacity.

For instance, when COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, it may cause pneumonia or severe lung injury. Though recovery is possible, you may need to undergo therapy and do a doctor-recommended exercise for the lungs to improve lung capacity. Doing breathing exercises to strengthen the lungs helps in restoring diaphragm function [1]. It even aids in reducing stress and anxiety attacks. You also get a good night’s sleep when you practice breathing exercises for the lungs.

Yoga for Lungs | Bajaj Finserv Health

Here are easy-to-do breathing exercises to strengthen lungs that you can try at home.

Additional read: Everything to know about COVID-19 Care in 2021

Practice diaphragmatic breathing to strengthen your diaphragm muscles

This breathing exercise for the lungs is also called belly breathing. If you are wondering how to increase lung capacity, this exercise is a must-do as it engages your diaphragm muscles. Though it is beneficial for all, it is ideal for people suffering from COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing, follow these simple steps.

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position by relaxing your shoulders.
  • Keep one hand on the chest and the other hand on your stomach.
  • As you inhale through your nose for two seconds, feel the air moving to your abdomen as your stomach moves out. Note that your stomach needs to move more than your chest.
  • Finally, breathe out by pressing your lips tightly for two seconds and keep your abdomen pressed.

Doing this exercise helps in improving the expansion and contraction rates of your lungs. Practice this daily for 5 to 10 minutes for effective results.

Pranayam exercise to boost lung capacity

Keep your airways open with a pursed-lip breathing exercise

The main reason behind chronic lung conditions like asthma and bronchitis is inflamed airways. As a result, your lung is unable to absorb the fresh air and stale air gets trapped within. Consequently, you feel short of breath. This can be managed with the pursed-lip breathing exercise. It enables the airways to stay open for longer so that you can exhale stale air and your lungs may be able to take in more fresh air [2]. It is one of the easiest breathing exercises that can be done anytime and anywhere. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale using your pursed lips. If you inhale for 5 seconds then make sure to exhale for 10 seconds to complete this exercise.

Do pranayama for increasing your lung capacity

Practicing yoga plays a significant role in improving your immune resilience especially if you are recovering from respiratory ailments [3]. Pranayama for COVID survivors is highly recommended as it helps increase the strength of the lungs. There are different pranayama techniques such as Bhastrika, Nadi shuddhi, Bhramari, and Kapalbhati, which help in purifying your lungs.

Recent studies have revealed that the modified Bhramari exercise for lungs may play a significant role in preventing morbidity due to COVID-19 [4]. Nadi shuddhi pranayama is similar to Anulom vilom and differs only in the fact that you hold your breath a little longer. All these breathing techniques keep your oxygen level in control and your mind calm and relaxed.

Additional read: Important Things to Know About Your Lungs This World Lung Cancer Day

Use a breathing exerciser for effective intake of oxygen

For people who find it difficult to breathe, using a breathing exerciser is helpful. It is a respiratory device that helps in improving the functioning of the lungs. This device improves airflow and enhances lung capacity by helping clear the nasal tract. Use it for a period of 1-2 hours twice during a day. However, do use it after consulting your doctor to understand the level you need to reach.

Daily walks for good health | Bajaj Finserv Health

These breathing exercises for the lungs can help you enhance their efficiency. Apart from following the above-mentioned techniques, maintain an active and healthy lifestyle by going for brisk walks. Activities like singing and dancing also help increase your lung capacity. Isn’t that fun and healthy at the same time? However, if you face any discomfort in breathing, contact top pulmonologists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an in-person or an online doctor consultation to stay safe from respiratory infections.

Published on 30 Aug 2021Last updated on 13 Apr 2023
  1. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/exercise-and-lung-health
  2. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/breathing-exercises
  3. https://www.ayush.gov.in/docs/yoga-guidelines.pdf
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7239502/

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Vibha Choudhary

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vibha Choudhary

, Bachelor in Physiotherapy (BPT)


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